Amartya Sen, the Nobel-laureate, had famously pronounced that democracies would not witness famines because any developing food crisis would receive a lot of media-attention and the government being democratic in character would be forced to take preventive steps to negate the possibility of a full blown famine. The same logic should apply to any health crisis like severe malnutrition.
But, Sen could not foresee the emergence of Narendra Modi’s style of democracy. Government of India and UNICEF together conducted a state-wise study on nutritional standards of children and women. The study was completed and the report was ready in October, 2014. GOI is yet to release the report for public consumption.
However, The Economist magazine has managed to obtain the report christened the Rapid Survey on Children and has made it available at www.economist.com/indiachildren. The report shows that the state of Gujarat fares very poorly in various parameters relating to child nutrition. The proportion of hungry children in this comparatively wealthy state is as high as 33.5% . 42% of children in Gujarat are stunted (that is, short for their age) and 18.7% weigh too little for their height. These statistics obviously are not an effective advertisement for the Gujarat model of development. At the same time, this cannot be the reason for withholding the eye-opening report from the public.
Added on 5th July:
Following additional statistics taken from The Economist are revealing:
1)Underweight children (aged under 5 years, % of total)
Gujarat: 34%, All India: 29%, Maharashtra: 25%, Tamilnadu: 23%, Kerala: 19%
2)Stunted children (aged under 5 years, % of total)
Gujarat: 42%, All India: 39%, Maharashtra: 35%, Tamilnadu: 23%, Kerala: 20%
3)Immunisation (children aged 12 months to 23 months, % of total)
Gujarat: 56%, All India: 65%, Maharashtra: 77%, Tamilnadu: 76%, Kerala: 83%